Musical Theatre Launches Wellness Center

Dedicated to the physical, mental, and vocal well-being of musical theatre students, the Wellness Center begins this fall by launching two programs:

Nutrition Fueling Station

The fueling station is a concept developed by our nutritionist Kris Clark during her time at Penn State Athletics. It is a collection of foods available and provided to musical theatre students throughout their day in order to fully maximize their nutritional health. The goal is to connect nutritional behavior to the training in musical theatre. The fueling station will position students to optimize energy levels before and after workouts, dance classes, rehearsals, and other physically strenuous components of musical theatre training. 

Psychological Services

This concept is developed by Dennis Heitzmann, former senior director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Penn State, along with a colleague, Leann Diederich. We have put in place a system that allows Musical Theatre students to confidentially seek consultation, referrals, and treatment for a variety of counseling and psychological services. Drs. Heitzmann and Diederich will become specifically acquainted with our students and programs so they can best consult, refer, or provide services to them.

About the Wellness Center

The student-artists in the Musical Theatre program are high-level pre-professionals. The training they undertake is extraordinarily demanding—filled with intense physical and vocal demands, as well as the emotional stress of extremely high performance focus. In many respects, the experience of the student-artist resembles the experience of Penn State’s varsity student-athlete. Our mission with the Wellness Center is to provide a comprehensive range of services to help musical theatre students avoid injury, minimize stress, and negotiate the demands placed on them in their training. 


Meet Our Counselors


Dennis Heitzmann

Dennis E. Heitzmann, Ph.D.

Dr. Heitzmann received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas (Austin). During his tenure at Penn State, Dr. Heitzmann served as senior director of Counseling and Psychological Services, special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs, and affiliate professor in both the Clinical and Counseling Psychology training programs at Penn State. In addition, he has served as the president of the International Association of Counseling Services, and as president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, from which he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to university student mental health. He is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, a member of the American Psychological Association, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, and past president of the Central Pennsylvania Psychological Association. Dr. Heitzmann has presented lectures and workshops on a variety of mental health topics, provided organizational consultation to various executives and agencies, and is the author of a book and several articles on a variety of mental health topics. Dr. Heitzmann is currently in private practice with Child, Adult, and Family Psychological Center in State College, PA. His areas of specialization include the treatment of adults from diverse backgrounds with concerns related to depression and anxiety; life transitions; career, school and work-related issues; marriage, divorce, and adjustment to each; and the developmental concerns of young adults.


Kris Clark

Kris Clark, Ph.D., RDN, FACSM

Dr. Kris Clark recently retired as director of sports nutrition for Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics after 26 years in that position. During those years she counseled the more than 800 varsity athletes from 26 teams on nutrition issues that ranged from energy needs, eating before and after workouts, to recovery strategies and muscle growth. Her work at Penn State led to working with four United States Olympic teams, including women’s and men’s soccer, men’s volleyball, and women’s lacrosse. She was the exclusive nutritionist for U.S. Women’s Soccer for ten years.

Kris currently holds an adjunct position in the Department of Kinesiology as associate research professor, along with managing a private local consulting practice. She is thrilled to be connecting with the Musical Theatre program as a sports nutrition volunteer consultant. After 36 years in clinical practice, working primarily with serious athletes in sports, she is enthusiastic about working with serious athletes in musical theatre! 

Dr. Clark has a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State, a master's degree in Health Education, and a B.S. degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin. Her research interests have included food choices for recreational exercisers and athletes, eating for energy and recovery, dietary supplement use, and muscle growth. Clark, a registered dietitian, is currently on the Board of Directors of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, past president of the Practice Group in Sports Nutrition, and past president of the Practice Group in Weight Management. She is a Fellow in and past Trustee Member of the American College of Sports Medicine and a Fellow in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds a position on the U.S. Olympic Sports Medicine Advisory Board. Clark is a nutrition resource for numerous popular magazines and is regularly quoted in Shape, Self, Real Simple, Reader's Digest, Men’s Health, Glamour, and Good Housekeeping


Leann Diederich

Leann T. Diederich, Ph.D.

Dr. Diederich received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University (Bloomington). She was a staff psychologist and group therapy coordinator at Counseling and Psychological Services at Penn State prior to moving into independent practice in 2014. She is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, a member of the American Psychological Association, and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. She has served as a board member-at-large for the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy (Division 49 of the American Psychological Association). Additionally, Dr. Diederich maintains an active academic focus as an adjunct instructor at the undergraduate level in Human Development and Family Studies and in the doctoral program in Counselor Education at Penn State. She presents nationally on a range of topics, including co-leadership development, multicultural competency in group therapy, and the impact of visible/invisible identities. Her areas of specialization include working with young adults and early career professionals on improving interpersonal relationships, reducing anxiety and depression, and fostering wellness through living a value-driven life.

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Contact Us

Address: Penn State School of Theatre, 116 Theatre Building, University Park, PA 16802 USA.

Office: (814) 865 7586

Fax: (814) 865 5754

Tickets: (814) 863 0255